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Schools in Latvia have less favourable disciplinary climates in science lessons compared to other OECD countries, according to students’ reports in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015, with an index of disciplinary climate of -0.17 (the OECD average index value was 0.00). Student truancy was higher in Latvia than the OECD average: 24.7% of 15-year-olds reported skipping at least one day of school in the two weeks before the PISA 2015 test, compared to an average of 19.7%. However, students in Latvia were more likely to report that their science teachers adapt their instructions more frequently than the OECD average, with an index of adaptive instruction of 0.18 (the average index value was 0.01) (OECD, 2016[1]).

The PISA 2015 index of instructional educational leadership (measuring the frequency with which principals report doing leadership activities specifically related to instruction) at 0.22, was higher than the OECD average of 0.01 (OECD, 2016[1]). The proportion of lower secondary teachers in 2016 aged 50 or over was among the highest among OECD countries, at 50.7% compared to an average of 35.4%.

In 2017, teachers in Latvia had more net teaching hours for general programmes than the OECD average. Teachers annually taught 1 020 hours at both primary and lower secondary levels, compared to OECD averages of 784 and 696 hours, respectively (OECD, 2018[2]). According to school principals’ self-reports in PISA 2015, schools in Latvia have slightly lower levels of autonomy over curriculum than the OECD average: 71.4% of principals reported that the school has primary autonomy over curriculum, compared to an average of 73.4% (OECD, 2016[1]).

Lower secondary teachers earned 97% of the average salary of a full-time, full-year worker with tertiary education in 2016, which was above the OECD average of 91%. According to the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018, 65.4% of teachers in Latvia said that if they could choose again, they would still become a teacher; this was lower than the OECD average of 75.6%. Furthermore, 23.3% of teachers felt that the teaching profession was valued in society, compared to an OECD average of 25.8% in 2018 (OECD, 2019[3]).

According to school leaders’ reports in PISA 2015, all school leaders in Latvia are expected to conduct self-evaluations of their schools (100% of students were in schools whose principal reported this, compared to the OECD average of 93.2%). They are also much more likely than average to undergo external evaluations of their schools (95.9% of students were in schools whose principal reported this, compared to the OECD average of 74.6%). The share of students enrolled in secondary schools whose principal reported that standardised tests are used to make decisions on students’ promotion or retention was 59%, which was higher than the OECD average of 31%, as reported in PISA 2015 (OECD, 2016[1]).

In 2017, school autonomy levels over resource management (allocation and use of resources for teaching staff and principals) were higher in Latvia than the OECD average: all of these decisions are taken at the school level, compared to an average of 29%.

Annual expenditure per student at primary level in Latvia was USD 6 672 in 2015, which was lower than the OECD average of USD 8 631. At secondary level, Latvia spent USD 6 930 per student compared to the OECD average of USD 10 010 while at tertiary level (including spending on research and development) Latvia spent USD 10 137 per student compared to the OECD average of USD 15 656. The proportion of expenditure on education (from primary to tertiary) coming from private sources (including household expenditure, expenditure from other private entities and international sources) in 2015 was below average at 8.6% of overall spending, compared to the average of 16.1%. Between 2005 and 2015, the relative proportion of public expenditure on primary to tertiary education increased by 7.5 percentage points in Latvia, which was one of the largest increases among OECD countries, where the average change was a decline of 1.3 percentage points. During the same period, private expenditure in Latvia fell by 28.4 percentage points while across OECD countries the average change was an increase of 10.6 percentage points (OECD, 2018[2]).

Evolution of key education policy priorities

Latvia’s key education policy priorities have evolved in the following ways over the last decade (Table 8.19).

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Table 8.19. Evolution of key education policy priorities, Latvia (2008-19)

Identified by

Selected OECD country-based work, 2008-191

Evolution of responses collected by the Education Policy Outlook, 2013-192

School improvement

OECD evidence found that despite recent efforts to improve working conditions and quality, the human resource development of early childhood education and care (ECEC) staff remains a fragmented and under-developed area of policy shared between the central government and municipalities. Although less so than other levels of education, the ECEC workforce is ageing and together with a decline in the numbers of children, these conditions call for a more strategic approach to human resource development. Quality education needs to be ensured to attract the best candidates. Latvia has worked to improve the attractiveness of teaching and academic work, but more coherence is needed between the initiatives. [2016]

Latvia reported the need for further measures to develop and implement its competency-based general education content and provide students with the necessary knowledge for their further professional and personal development. Latvia had reported prioritising raising the attractiveness of the teaching profession and improving teachers’ professional competencies as part of a comprehensive strategy to improve teacher quality. More recently, Latvia reported the challenge of low salaries in the teaching profession compared to other public sector professionals and the OECD average, as well as the fact that that many teachers do not consider their profession highly valued. [2013; 2016-17]

Evaluation and assessment

According to OECD evidence, Latvia has taken steps to establish and strengthen each of the key components that make up a comprehensive assessment and evaluation system, with partial success as the elements were still not equally well developed and lacked synergy. Further progress was needed to enhance the quality of the data collected. Some data suggest that establishing an external quality assurance system that meets international standards must be among the highest priorities. [2015; 2016]

In 2013, Latvia had reported prioritising the development of an education quality monitoring system. More recently, Latvia reported that while evaluation instruments had been put in place, the challenge of achieving a systemic approach remained. Latvia also stated that to promote evidence-based policy planning and implementation, it is necessary to acquire comprehensive data, using different instruments and promoting the comparability and sustainability of data. [2013; 2016-17]


The OECD identified that Latvia lacked national professional standards for ECEC staff. The OECD also highlighted the demands for curriculum reform and the development of teaching and leadership standards, as well as improvement in education outcomes. Latvia has embarked on several ambitious reforms of which the success will depend on the national-level capacity to lead and sustain change, and on the strategic leadership and management capacity at the institutional level to implement the desired changes. Institutional autonomy needs to be better matched with public accountability. There is also a need to engage stakeholders in designing and implementing policy. [2015; 2016]

Latvia reported persisting challenges to reduce the fragmentation of general education institutions, although policy measures have been taken. Latvia has 119 municipalities with shared responsibility for providing ECEC, primary, secondary, extracurricular activities and non-formal education, serving a declining population. Municipalities vary significantly in size, socio-economic composition and capacity, and evidence suggests the need to rebalance the high level of autonomy of municipalities with greater public accountability. Challenges remain in improving the effectiveness of higher education governance and reducing a highly fragmented higher education system. [2013; 2016-17]


Despite decentralised social services and reforming its administrative structure with the aim of ensuring high-quality provision of services, among others, some municipalities still lacked the capacity and resources to deliver on this aim. According to OECD evidence, the amount of public funding provided for research and development (R&D) is the lowest of any EU member state, and the lack of public funding is identified as a major factor inhibiting national scientific progress. Also, there is a need to continue efforts to realign system capacity with demographic decline, fiscal reality and labour market needs as the current approach is fragmented. [2015; 2016]

Latvia had previously reported the need to revise funding to meet challenges of remuneration, efficiency and demography. A new challenge identified was the drop of investment for education at all levels, due to the 2008 financial crisis, to 4.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013, below the OECD average of 5.2%. As funding levels had already been low, the considerable budget cuts following the crisis imposed challenges in terms of efficiency, co-ordination, policy implementation and optimisation of provision, although there has been an increase of funding in recent years. [2013; 2016-17]


1. See Annex A (OECD publications consulted).

2. See Reader’s Guide (years and methods of collection).


Selected education policy responses

School improvement

  • In Latvia, the Education Development Guidelines (2014-20), which define the goals and sub-goals for Latvia’s education system, include planned actions to enhance teachers’ professional competencies in order to raise the quality of learning processes. Specific measures include: 1) developing teachers’ professional competence, particularly in teaching the new competency-based general education content and inclusive education; 2) improving the professional skills of vocational education teachers and apprenticeship leaders with a particular emphasis on co-operation with employers; 3) developing competence among administrative, pedagogical and academic staff in vocational and higher education to improve the organisation of learning processes and use of information and communication technology (ICT) as well as other areas; and 4) promoting international co-operation between teachers (MoES, 2013[383]).

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Progress or impact: The government began by developing a competency-based curriculum for initial teacher education (ITE) programmes and approving the conceptual framework for a new model of competency-based teacher education (European Union, 2018[384]). It also plans to rationalise ITE provision to make it less fragmented. As part of a project supported by the European Social Fund (ESF), Latvia is developing new ITE programmes in six higher education institutions, and certain elements of some older ITE programmes will be discontinued. The project plans to have a total of 23 new ITE programmes in place by 2023 (European Union, 2018[384]).

Also with the support of the ESF, the National Centre for Education has launched several professional development programmes to prepare teachers for the implementation of the new competency-based curriculum. The programmes target different audiences based on their roles in relation to the curriculum. Some 1 650 school leaders, teachers, general education and vocational education and training (VET) leadership teams had participated in the programmes by the end of 2018.

Latvia has also allocated extra funding to allow an additional 2 450 teachers to be trained, including 50 teachers who will be trained as future trainers. Free e-learning materials are also available; by the end of 2018, 444 pre-school educators had accessed them. Also, the Ministry of Education and Science (IZM) has allocated additional funding to train regional consultants and professional development experts to support the implementation of competency frameworks (National information reported to the OECD).

Evaluation and assessment

  • In 2011-15, the State Education Development Agency (SEDA) implemented the ESF project, “Supporting education studies”. The project sought to ensure Latvia’s participation in three international education research initiatives: the OECD’s PISA tests (2012 and basic data collection in 2015), the OECD’s TALIS survey (2013), and the ASEM Lifelong Learning Hub studies. SEDA co-ordinated the implementation of the project with the University of Latvia (LU) as the main project partner (SEDA, 2015[385]). The project was fully funded by the ESF with a budget of EUR 1.3 million (SEDA, 2018[386]).

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Progress or impact: By the end of the project, Latvia had participated in each international study as planned. According to national information reported to the OECD, the results fed into policy planning and analysis, as well as helped to assess education quality in Latvia and compare it to other countries. In 2016, to promote sustainability of these practices, the Ministry of Education and Science (IZM) began a follow-up project, “Participation in international education studies” (Projekts “Dalība starptautiskos izglītības pētījumos”, 2016-23). Again supported by the ESF, this project consolidated processes launched in the previous cycle and expanded the range of studies to include PISA, TALIS, the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the Survey on the Careers of Doctorate Holders (SCDH), the Indicators of Education Systems (INES) programme, the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) and a study on the governance of higher education institutions in co-operation with the World Bank. The total funding for the project is EUR 6.25 million: EUR 5 312 500 from the ESF and EUR 937 500 from the state budget (MoES, 2016[387]). The IZM co-ordinates the implementation of this project with the University of Latvia (LU) and the Central Statistical Bureau as co-operation partners. This helps ensure continuity across the two projects as LU maintains its key role. The World Bank is a contractor for research on the governance of higher education. Participation in these studies will provide Latvia with internationally comparable data, which is necessary for evidence-based policy planning and implementation and can contribute to the development of an education-quality monitoring system (MoES, 2016[387]).

  • In 2017, Latvia started working on establishing national-level education studies to promote the development of an education-quality monitoring system. The ESF provides support. The aim is to establish a system based on the collection and analysis of a range of indicators including statistical information, comparative education research, system-level student outcomes, institutional performance, programme accreditation and staff appraisal. This will support those responsible for the development and implementation of educational policy. The project will be implemented from 2018-22. The total funding for the project is EUR 4.8 million, of which around EUR 4 million comes from ESF and EUR 722 154 from the state budget (Cabinet of Ministers, 2017[388]). Planned measures include: 1) developing a description of the monitoring system and designing and validating prototypes of education-quality monitoring tools; 2) establishing a national research programme in education and running in-depth analyses of the different challenges regarding quality of education and their causation; and 3) conducting strategic communication and training activities to educate, inform and strengthen the analytical capacity of education experts in the ministry as well as other stakeholders (National information reported to the OECD).

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Progress or impact: As of mid-2019, the Ministry of Education and Science (IZM) had made progress on several measures, including the approval of an implementation plan that also sets out the themes selected and approved for specific surveys and studies. The IZM has also conducted consultations with a wide range of stakeholders to formulate a common agreement on a conceptual framework of quality education in Latvia. International experts have led training seminars for stakeholders, and Latvia’s 2018 conference of education leaders included discussions on the monitoring of quality education (National information reported to the OECD).

Additional education policies of potential interest to other countries

Evaluation and assessment

  • From 2017, the list of indicators for school performance in Latvia has expanded to include eight additional performance indexes (further education pathways, employment status of graduates, number of students taking interest-related [extracurricular] education or vocationally oriented education programmes) (National information reported to the OECD).

  • Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers approved Regulation No. 831 (2016) on the procedure for evaluating educational institutions, the accreditation of educational programmes and the evaluation of leadership. The regulation harmonises the accreditation processes for general and vocational education. It also establishes a new evaluation framework consisting of 7 key areas with 17 criteria ranging from curriculum and teaching to resources and quality assurance. The State Education Quality Service (SEQS) undertakes the quality assessment of education institutions (except pre-schools, higher education institutions and colleges) and educational programmes and may refuse to accredit them if any of the criteria is judged “insufficient”. The regulation also introduced a new methodology for evaluation in which education institutions are accredited for six years and programmes for either two or six years (Cabinet of Ministers, 2016[389]). Following the regulation, the SEQS also carries out school leader appraisals using an updated methodology and evaluation framework. New criteria include the fulfilment of goals and objectives, relationships with staff, student safety, support for students with special educational needs and staff professional development. Under the new methodology, leaders are evaluated via the accreditation procedures for their institution every six years, and by the school founder (usually the municipality) every two years (Cabinet of Ministers, 2016[389]). This aims to ensure that leadership roles align with persisting and emerging goals, qualifications, and accreditation requirements. The SEQS began implementing the new framework in 2017.


Selected education policy responses


  • Since 2009, Latvia has been carrying out a comprehensive programme of reforms that touches upon the overall operation and content of vocational education. It aims to improve the attractiveness and quality of VET pathways, increase relevance through greater engagement with social partners, modularise programmes and occupational standards and increase work-based learning.

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Progress or impact: During 2010-15, the number of VET schools under the Ministry of Education and Science’s responsibility were rearranged from 60 to 24. Following procedures established in 2013, 17 of those had been granted the status of vocational education competence centre (VECC) by the end of 2016 (OECD, 2017[390]). This status is awarded to centres that surpass specific benchmarks related to the quality of provision and the development of partnerships (Cabinet of Ministers, 2013[391]). In terms of curriculum, Latvia managed to update 230 of 242 occupational standards by the end of 2018, despite a slow start. However, modularisation has been slower, and 172 of 242 modular programmes remained to be developed as of the end of 2018. Latvia now expects to finalise the reform by the end of 2021 instead of 2020 (European Union, 2019[392]). Changes related to embedding work-based learning (WBL) approaches have made positive progress. A WBL pilot programme launched in 2013/14 included six vocational schools covering 148 students and 29 companies, and in 2016, Latvia developed and adopted new regulations to implement WBL (OECD, 2017[390]). In the academic year 2017/18, some 1 000 students were enrolled in WBL programmes and over 4 000 students in work practice. A total of 18 professional education institutions now offer WBL for second- and third-level professional qualifications. Also, up to 230 vocational programmes covering 85 professional qualifications now include embedded WBL components (European Union, 2019[392]).

  • Since 2009, Latvia has been reforming the general education institutions network, from ECEC through to tertiary education, in preparation for a “demographic shock”. The IZM has sought to reorganise education networks and programmes at all levels to align institutions to anticipated changes and create more efficiency (National information reported to the OECD). This reform has also granted municipalities the autonomy to implement locally administered consolidation plans for their communities. Latvia’s Education Development Guidelines 2014-20 reinforce the goal of restructuring the general education institutions network as well as introducing measures regarding the minimum number of students per class and the optimisation of small schools (OECD, 2017[390]).

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Progress or impact: Several municipalities have merged pre-school institutions with general education institutions as part of their education system’s administrative consolidation (National information reported to the OECD). However, some municipalities have resisted closing or merging small secondary schools, preventing further efficiency gains (OECD, 2016[393]). Latvia has temporarily delayed efforts to consolidate schools based on the minimum number of students, although work on implementing this arrangement is still ongoing. In 2018, Latvia approved regulations that specify quality criteria to deliver services in general secondary education institutions (e.g. maximum and minimum number of students, or participation of the state in the financing of the remuneration of teachers). These will come into force in 2020. The Government’s 2018 Progress Report on the implementation of the National Reform Programme led to the creation of a reimagined school map appropriate for current conditions. This serves not only as a model of an optimal school network development tool but also as a daily tool for decision makers in municipalities (MoES, 2019[394]). Latvia has also launched discussions among municipalities and other institutions to analyse further potential solutions for the development of an efficient and sustainable network (Government of Latvia, 2018[395]).

  • In 2015, a regulation passed to transfer the function of accreditation and licensing in higher education to the Academic Information Centre (AIC) in Latvia. This measure aims to further strengthen the quality assurance of the higher education system (Cabinet of Ministers, 2015[396]). The AIC subsequently established the Quality Agency for Higher Education (Augstākās izglītības kvalitātes aģentūra, AIKA) to carry out these functions. One of the main goals of AIKA is to comply with the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) and become a member of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) before the comprehensive accreditation round in 2019 (AIKA, 2018[397]).

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Progress or impact: In 2016, the Academic Information Centre (AIC) approved and implemented an ESF project to work on meeting the requirements for the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA). Simultaneously, it developed a revised concept of higher education quality monitoring. This fed into the definition of concrete goals and mechanisms for improvements to the monitoring system, with short- and medium-term indicators. Also in 2016, the AIC started a pilot accreditation process for 12 higher education institutions, organised informative seminars, set up a draft development strategy for the accreditation agency and developed proposals for amendments to normative acts (National information reported to the OECD) (AIC, 2016[398]).

In 2018, the Quality Agency for Higher Education (AIKA) was granted full membership to the ENQA for five years. Also, as part of an external international review, the AIC asked the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (EQAR), the umbrella organisation of quality assurance organisations in the European higher education area, to conduct an institutional review of AIKA. The review assessed the degree to which AIKA complied with the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG) and was to be completed by the end of 2018. The ENQA Board also provided support for the inclusion of AIC in EQAR, which was finalised in 2018 and marks the first time that a Latvian higher education agency has been included (Forst, 2019[399]).

  • In 2016, Latvia’s IZM and the World Bank signed an agreement to improve the governance of Latvia’s higher education institutions (HEIs). The World Bank’s experts agreed to develop models to strengthen HEIs’ managerial and financial autonomy, financial stability, strategic specialisation and co-operation with industries. The organisation also provided input on policy planning and further investments targeting the development of internal governance among Latvia’s HEIs and the development of their academic staff. The project was due for completion by April 2018 at a total cost of USD 370 000 financed with the support of the ESF (OECD, 2017[390]).

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Progress or impact: The World Bank’s collaboration with Latvian authorities spanned two advisory projects over four phases. The first advisory project, implemented during 2013-14, focused on the development of a performance-based funding model for the higher education system. The second project included two phases from 2016 to 2018: 1) improving funding mechanisms and governance within higher education institutions; and 2) improving academic careers (World Bank, 2017[400]). Following completion of Phase 2, the Ministry of Education and Science and the World Bank agreed a third phase focused on building capacity among stakeholders to foster the longevity of the changes. This included preparing and delivering peer-learning workshops on higher education internal funding and governance and academic careers (National information reported to the OECD). In 2017, the World Bank published a report on the internal funding and governance of Latvian higher education, showing some initial progress. All institutions had developed strategy documents and selected instruments for their implementation; some institutions had already begun to engage in streamlining internal governance structures and processes. The report identified a collaborative and “democratic culture” within institutions’ internal governance structures but noted an imbalance between the responsibility of leaders and that of collegial bodies, which could pose threats to strategic development (World Bank, 2017[400]).

According to a recent progress report from the government, new governance measures for higher education are being put in place to reduce the fragmentation of study programmes. Also, new regulations aim to reinforce the use of ESF funds to improve alignment between study programme curricula and labour market needs and, in particular, to develop the competencies of management personnel and introduce e-solutions (Government of Latvia, 2018[395]). In 2018, based on the experts’ recommendations received during the second advisory project, Latvia developed two further programmes with ESF: one to ensure better governance of HEIs and another to strengthen the academic personnel of HEIs in strategic specialisation areas. Both programmes, along with another ESF programme to reduce the fragmentation of study programmes and strengthen resource sharing, will operate from 2018-23 (National information reported to the OECD).


  • During 2013-15, Latvia granted state financial support to private pre-school institutions and childcare providers under the condition that by the end of 2015, municipalities would find satisfactory solutions to the shortage of pre-school education provision. Although the number of ECEC institutions increased from 550 to 617 between 2003-14, Latvia continued to face shortages of ECEC places, largely due to rural to urban migration (OECD, 2017[390]).

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Progress or impact: Municipalities had not solved the issue by the end of 2015, and the government continued to provide financial support until 2016. In 2016, at least 89% of three-year-olds in Latvia were enrolled in pre-primary education, compared to an OECD average of 76%, and an increase of 23 percentage points from 2005 (OECD, 2018[2]). In 2016, municipalities and the private sector collaborated to open several child development and play centres. At that time, local governments assumed responsibility for providing financial aid to parents with children between 18 months of age and the start of primary education who were not able to enrol in public childcare in municipal kindergartens due to lack of space (National information reported to the OECD). Since 2016, the assessment of the costs to municipalities for this measure has been calculated via a single method in order to improve transparency and consistency. In 2017, municipalities provided EUR 213 per month, on average, for each child between the ages of one and a half and four years old who was unable to access state-provided ECEC, and EUR 155 per month for those aged five or six who did not receive a place in state-provided, mandatory pre-primary education (Government of Latvia, 2017[402]).

  • Latvia’s new funding model for tertiary education, proposed by the World Bank, was endorsed in 2015 by the Cabinet of Ministers. The previous funding model had been criticised for its sole focus on an input-oriented approach, leading to low salaries, high workloads, misalignment of teaching and research, bureaucracy and a lack of incentives for institutions to diversify, innovate and collaborate (Cabinet of Ministers, 2015[403]). The new model aims to increase quality, internationalisation and labour market relevance within tertiary education, using an approach that balances three key pillars: stability, performance and innovation (OECD, 2017[390]). It intends to provide more balance to the higher education system by focusing on three funding pillars. The core funding pillar is based on the number of academic staff and study places within an institution in an effort to increase funding for research and further align teaching and research funding. The performance-oriented pillar is based on performance indicators derived partly from national strategies and partly from institution-specific indicators related to an institution’s profile and strategic development plan. The innovation-oriented pillar provides funding for targets set by each university or by performance agreements, as well as allocating funding for research centres of excellence. Innovation-oriented funding combines funds from EU investment and structural funds that are allocated based on performance agreements (Cabinet of Ministers, 2015[403]).

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Progress or impact: In 2016, a regulation introduced additional public funding criteria for HEIs based on their renewal of human resources, industry relevance and the international competitiveness of their research (OECD, 2016[69]). The World Bank’s 2017 report on the internal funding and governance of Latvia’s HEIs noted that all institutions had either already begun to adjust to the new requirements of the internal funding model or were on their way to doing so. Additionally, the internal funding model had become more transparent. According to the report, remaining challenges include the lack of a stable funding stream for research available to all units and the risks posed by instability in the core funding pillar if allocation mechanisms for study places change at the system level. The report also recommends improving alignment between funding models and institutional objectives (World Bank, 2017[76]). In 2017, 14 HEIs received performance-based funding, having successfully included students in research and development initiatives (Government of Latvia, 2017[77]).

  • In Latvia, the government approved a revised teacher remuneration scheme (2016) for pre-primary, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education (Cabinet of Ministers, 2016[79]). This scheme is part of a new funding model that aims to recognise the additional workload of teachers outside instruction hours. It is based on a 30-hour work-week schedule in contrast to the previous model, which was based on a 21-hour teaching workload (OECD, 2017[66]). The new remuneration scheme also introduced a 13.3% increase in teachers’ minimum statutory salaries from EUR 420 per month in 2013 to EUR 710 per month in 2018. This led to an initial increase of EUR 9 million in the central budget for teachers’ salaries in 2016. The government has also maintained quality-related bonuses linked to teachers’ performance, and school principals can provide extra salary bonuses (European Union, 2016[80]; Government of Latvia, 2016[81]). Going forward, the issue of teacher salaries will be evaluated within the budget-planning process (European Union, 2017[82]).

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Progress or impact: Teachers’ remuneration has always been a sensitive topic in Latvia and generally attracts significant public attention. Therefore, the government actively involved all relevant stakeholders in the consultation process, ensuring in-depth discussions (National information reported to the OECD). In 2018, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the plan to increase teachers’ salaries. The government announced a schedule of increases for 2018-22 by the end of which the minimum monthly salary is set to have reached EUR 900. Accordingly, the government has scheduled additional budget investments of EUR 26.9 million in 2019, EUR 51.5 million in 2020, EUR 81.3 million in 2021 and EUR 111.1 million in 2022 (National information reported to the OECD). However, as student numbers decrease, maintaining investment in high-quality teaching is increasingly challenging, as a disproportionate share of resources is dedicated to maintaining the extensive school network as opposed to enhancing teaching and learning (European Union, 2019[68]). Improvements to the structure of the school network in order to better adapt to demographic changes are therefore crucial to overall policy success in Latvia’s education system (European Union, 2017[82]). Latvia’s former school funding model, where money follows the student, has remained in place under the new remuneration scheme despite having previously caused teacher salaries to diverge greatly (European Union, 2016[80]). Additionally, municipalities can still opt to assign top-ups to teachers’ salaries, which can create similar challenges in consistency (European Union, 2016[80]).

Additional education policies of potential interest to other countries


  • In Latvia, the National Centre for Education, in co-operation with municipalities and HEIs, has begun to implement an ESF project on the development and implementation of new competency-based general education curricula, covering pre-school to upper secondary school. This will replace the largely knowledge-based curriculum currently in place and includes competence development in entrepreneurship, healthy lifestyles, financial literacy and civic education (OECD, 2016[393]). As of the academic year 2017/18, 100 schools have been involved in a two-year pilot to test the new content. This includes the development and testing of a professional development programme and methodological tools to support embedding the changes in teaching practices. These materials will be accessible as e-learning modules and teacher-training providers, including universities, will integrate the professional development content into their programmes (Skola2030, 2018[408]). A digital learning site is being created to make all resources accessible in all schools. Implementation will occur gradually, starting with pre-school education in the academic year 2019/20, then lower basic education (grades 1-6) in 2020/21, upper basic education (grades 7-9) in 2021/22 and secondary education (grades 10-12) in 2022/23. As part of the development of the new curriculum, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted new pre-school education guidelines and state basic education standards in 2018 following a comprehensive consultation process that included online public consultation, various seminars with key stakeholder groups and discussion fora with opinion leaders (MoES, 2019[409]).


  • In an ongoing effort to improve support for children with special education needs, the Latvian government promised additional support for the inclusion of special needs children in mainstream schools across the period 2014-20. As of 2016, the IZM had begun piloting a revised model for school funding that allocates additional funds for students with special needs (OECD, 2016[393]). Following a 2017 study conducted by the University of Latvia, a classification system has been developed to align types of special needs with the models of education, healthcare and social service that can be offered to the children with those needs (Government of Latvia, 2018[395]). In 2018, work continued on the development of financial models to support the integration of children with special needs into mainstream schools. Authorities also aim to identify children with special education needs earlier in primary and secondary education, develop adapted teaching practices and methodological tools, and invest in teachers’ skills to better respond to students’ special education needs (OECD, 2016[393]).

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